The precise, unerring, delicately emphatic characterizations for which The Canterbury Tales is so famous are no more extraordinary than Chaucer’s utter mastery of English rhythms and his effortless versification. Ranging from animal fables to miniature epics of courtly love and savagely hilarious comedies of sexual comeuppance, these stories told by pilgrims on the way to the shrine of Thomas à Becket in Canterbury reveal a teeming, vital fourteenth-century English society on the verge of its Renaissance.
These tales bring together a band of pilgrims who represented most of the occupations and social groups of the time. The diversity of the narrators in turn made possible a varied collection of tales including chivalric romance, spiritual allegory, courtly lay, beast fable and literary satire.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400), often referred to as “the grandfather of English literature,” is invariably ranked with Shakespeare and Milton as one of the three greatest poets of the English language. His masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, has been a touchstone for… More about Geoffrey Chaucer
“The Canterbury Tales was written . . . during what the Middle Ages would have considered Chaucer’s old age . . . It is a quite astonishing production . . . [He was] free to experiment with narrative in a more audacious way, to challenge orthodoxies old and yet to be formulated, and to explore, exploit, enrich and subvert all the many available kinds of medieval story.” –from the Introduction by Derek Pearsall